Response at a UN Security Council Briefing on Venezuela

Elliott Abrams
U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela
New York City
February 26, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to respond briefly to the remarks of the representative of the Russian Federation.

I think we’re all aware of efforts that are being made far away from here in Hanoi in the next couple of days to solve some problems that arose during the Cold War, but that is not the rhetoric that we heard in the Council today. We heard a lot of Cold War rhetoric, the kind of rhetoric that we used to hear when that sign said, not Russian Federation, but Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and it is a bit surprising.

First of all, what the United States did in providing aid or attempting to provide aid was done at the request of the legitimate government – the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido – who requested such aid from the international community. The Russian delegate said that his country delivered aid, but I wonder how much of that aid will get to the people of Venezuela because it was not delivered to the people. It was delivered to the regime, which will take it. And we will never know how much of it was sold through corrupt practices and how much was simply given to supporters of the regime.

Then we heard a good deal about the freezing of accounts and about gold. And here I think we get to the heart of the matter, which is a lot of money is owed to Russia. And you are no doubt worrying whether that money is going to be repaid. Well, my answer is not if this economy is driven further into the ground. The only way the debts that are owed by Venezuela will ever be repaid is if the economy can once again grow, if this terrible period of decline – which has impoverished what was once the richest country in Latin America – can be brought to an end.

Finally, I would just say that I reject completely – I reject from start to finish, I reject from top to bottom – accusations of military intervention from a country that is occupying the territory of Georgia and Ukraine, in South Ossetia, in Abkhazia, in Crimea. We do not accept such accusations in this situation. I reject them completely, and I’m amazed to hear them in the Council.

Thank you.